Growth is the biggest constant in life for everyone and everything. We are always moving from one place to another, never in one spot permanently. This concept of progression is what the American dream means to me and it is how I chose to define it with the simple phrase of upward mobility.
My definition of the ideology is heavily influenced by my experiences as a first-generation immigrant. It has been recited to me and ingrained in my head that this is the land of opportunity, a land where my parents have made heavy sacrifices to provide for my family and me.
There are many stories of rags to riches but from my perspective, the ideology sets us up with or convinces us that riches are the measure of success and rags are a mere starting point of the dream. With this philosophy, there are endless prospects for success and nothing is unattainable without hard work.
I will often look at my father who came to America with nothing more than the clothes on his back, a wife, and a kid but now lives comfortably in a four-bedroom suburban home. If I were to bring this up to him he would say that it was all due to hard work and that I shouldn’t ask too many questions but instead do my homework so that I too can provide for my family in the future, and see to it that I live comfortably in a bigger home with a better job and better opportunities. That word gets me the most, better.
It influences the phrase upward mobility. The phrase that describes my parents from how they rose in their economic and social position, they always wanted better. The phrase that makes me feel guilty when I mess up, more significant to me than being a first-generation immigrant is the thought that if I don’t continue on a path to success I have ultimately failed. The worst is failing when given more to start with and more access to resources. However, that is one thing the dream doesn’t take into account, starting points and access to resources. I believe that is what makes the American Dream so flawed, it emphasizes opportunity over privilege.
In our modern world, we have grown to see the injustices within it. Anyone can look through history and identify challenges that certain groups have faced, it is no secret that many barriers are stopping the attainment of the dream by limiting upward mobility. Someone impoverished starting will have a much more difficult time reaching the dream than someone middle class, but to understand this we need to understand privilege.
I believe that privilege is what ruins the ideology. This significant notion of success through hard work falls flat when picked at it piece by piece. Yes, success is possible through hard work which is up to the individual but opportunity is not. In the sense of finding a job, one is more likely to receive a higher paying job with a high school diploma than without, this seems like something small and avoidable, the answer being to simply just have worked harder to get that diploma in the first place, but with anything, there are circumstances some more complicated than others.
I see it as those starting with an education, not experiencing language barriers, and having a comfortable financial background being privileged. In my eyes those without must work harder to gain the same opportunities, this defeats the purpose of upward mobility and the dream as there is no set starting point and therefore no equal opportunity.
In my own words, I defined the American Dream as an ideology reliant on the concept of upward mobility through what it claims to have, endless opportunities for all. The more that I have picked through the philosophy I can take my stance that it is ultimately flawed. Not taking into account obstacles beyond control and focusing too much on hard work and success than equality and access.